Saturday 9 March 2019

Mauvais Sang (Bad Blood) [1986]

If the euphoric filmmaking in Holy Motors – with which he made a triumphant return after a hiatus of 13 years – was anything to go by, Leos Carax is truly an unclassifiable filmmaker. His penchant for stylized mise-en-scéne and self-conscious cinematic deconstructions – no wonder he’s heavily influenced by Godard – is evident even as early as his acclaimed second feature Mauvais Sang. The film may be, technically, neo-noir, gangster film, sci-fi pulp and romantic drama, and yet it’s really neither of the above while still being all of them – and that’s what makes it difficult to develop a pat liking for, but, for a cinéaste, easy to be in thrall of. Ageing criminal Marc (Michel Piccoli) has a debt to pay to a powerful woman (Carroll Brooks), and hence he’s planned an elaborate heist to get hold of a drug that potentially is the cure for a mysterious AIDS-like virus – which spreads upon making love without being in love –sweeping across the country. So, when the man who was supposed to help him suddenly dies, he enlists the latter’s son Alex (Carax’s regular collaborator and alter-ego Denis Levant), a young loner with dexterous hands. Meanwhile Alex, who’s left his loving girlfriend (Julie Delpy) to start afresh, becomes obsessed with Marc’s lover Anna (Juliette Binoche). Sparse yet flamboyant, muted yet vibrant, and filled with discursive dialogues and deliberately theatrical set-pieces that go everywhere and nowhere, the film’s language is unique. And yes, the exuberant sequence, shot in a glorious single take, where the feral Levant runs, hops, and cartwheels in frenzy to David Bowie’s ‘Modern Love’, has become part of cinematic folklore, as the unforgettable accordion break in Holy Motors.

Director: Leos Carax
Genre: Avant-Garde/Neo Noir/Gangster Film/Romantic Drama
Language: French
Country: France

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